In the late 1800’s Nashville, TN came to be called “Rock City” due to the solid limestone strata underlying the city, and the solid character of its business people. In 1913, three businessmen, J.W.N. Lee, G.B. Howard, and H.S. Sumner used this name for their new construction firm and hence founded Rock City Construction Co. (RockCity) in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1923, Mr. Lee took full ownership of the firm. Early work focused on residential, small commercial, renovation, and repair construction.

J.W.N Lee II, Founder of Rock City Construction
J.W.N. Lee II, Founder
J.W.N. Lee III, Rock City Construction
J.W.N. Lee III
John N. Lee, Rock City Construction
John N. Lee

During the 1920’s and 30’s, the firm expanded into industrial and institutional projects. In 1931, the state began issuing contractor licenses and RockCity received contractor’s license No. 2.

The 1940’s and 50’s were a time of growth for RockCity. During World War II, RockCity was involved in the construction of the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge and several other war related projects. J. W. N. Lee, III (Jack) joined the company in 1945 after graduating from Vanderbilt in 1941 and serving in the Pacific during WW II. The company continued to grow doing a number of major projects for the State of Tennessee.

In the 1960’s, RockCity was involved in many multi-family housing projects, completing more than 500 apartment units.

During the 1970’s and early 80’s, the company ventured into the healthcare-related field, concentrating mostly on building hospitals, nursing homes, and housing projects for the elderly. In 1974 John N. Lee joined the company full time after graduating from Georgia Tech with a Civil Engineering Degree. He took the helm as President in 1984 and has served in this capacity since that time.

The late 1980’s and the 90’s saw an increase in the number of industrial and religious projects and a broadening of the types of projects RockCity did. Many of these projects were additions and renovations to projects RockCity built in previous decades.

RockCity has continued to grow in the 21st Century. We have added many community buildings, including libraries, schools, athletic facilities and historical renovations to our portfolio. We have also continued to add quality professionals to our team. Our team has won numerous project and safety awards.

RockCity has provided a variety of delivery systems including traditional design/bid/build, design/build, and construction management.

Over the past 100 years, RockCity has contributed to the construction of some of the state’s greatest treasures and we have surely made a mark on our local industry. Despite our age, we have remained a family business, operating based on the same values that started the legacy of RockCity so long ago.

The RockCity team has evolved to meet the challenges of today’s construction industry and will continue to adapt to the ever-changing marketplace.